The Voting News Daily: Federal District Court Upholds Constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, Denver’s Inactive Ballot Flap: The Difficulty of Hitting a Moving Target

National: Federal District Court Upholds Constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act | Election Law Blog In a comprehensive and careful 151-page opinion, a federal district court in Shelby County v. Holder has upheld the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act against constitutional challenge.  Though there are other cases pending raising the same…

National: Federal District Court Upholds Constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act | Election Law Blog

In a comprehensive and careful 151-page opinion, a federal district court in Shelby County v. Holder has upheld the constitutionality of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act against constitutional challenge.  Though there are other cases pending raising the same issues (the Kinston case and the newly-filed challenge brought by Arizona), this opinion tees up the issue very well for eventual Supreme Court review.

I have not yet had a chance to read the entire opinion, but from my cursory review it appears that this case makes the strongest case possible from the congressional record against the argument that the requirement that certain jurisdictions (mainly, but not only, in the South) seek preclearance from the federal government before making changes in their voting practices and procedures exceeds congress’s power.

Colorado: The town of two elections – This fall, two Election Days for Telluride voters | Telluride Daily Planet

This election season, Telluride voters will head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 1 to cast their votes on Election Day. And then a week later, they’ll do it again.

Because of conflicting state and town rules that dictate when elections take place, there will be two Election Days in San Miguel County this November. The double election will only affect Town of Telluride voters; those who live outside of town boundaries will only vote in the coordinated election on Nov. 1. Telluride voters will vote in that election, and then a week later will vote in the town’s municipal election on Nov. 8.

The situation is highly unusual. San Miguel County Clerk Kathleen Erie punched some numbers and estimates that a double-Election Day won’t occur again until 2033. Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser said he hopes that it will never occur again — the town will likely insert language to its election rules that will prevent this in the future, he said.

Kentucky: Ethics panel declines to act on complaint about registering homeless voters |

The Executive Branch Ethics Commission has decided not to take action on a complaint filed by Bill Johnson, Republican candidate for secretary of state, over voter registration of homeless people.

Johnson said Tuesday that John Steffen, executive director of the ethics commission, told him the panel lacked jurisdiction to consider his complaint against Secretary of State Elaine Walker and the State Board of Elections. After the commission’s regular meeting Monday, Steffen declined to comment.

Johnson contended in his complaint, filed in August, that Walker and the elections board were violating the Kentucky Constitution by allowing people who don’t have addresses to register to vote.

Maine: Secretary of state to release voter fraud findings | Bangor Daily News

Maine Secretary of State Charlie Summers on Wednesday will announce the findings of a joint investigation into what he called the “questionable voter activity” of college students, and also whether non-citizens have successfully registered to vote. Summers launched his investigation in late July, a couple days after he was presented with information by Maine Republican Party Chairman Charlie Webster.

Webster suggested that 206 out-of-state students attending public Maine universities should be questioned and investigated for possible voter fraud. Specifically, the state GOP chairman wanted to know whether those students had established residency in Maine or whether they voted twice — in Maine and in their home state.

In the past, courts have ruled that students can consider a college dormitory their primary residence, which would allow them to vote in that community even if they are not full-time Maine residents.

Montana: As Lovaas Sues For Voter Fraud, Investigation Finds No Wrongdoing | NBCMontana

The Missoula County Attorney’s and Sheriff’s departments say that after a thorough investigation, they have no reason to believe fraud took place in the May school elections. The announcement comes just a few weeks after a local accountant filed suit over the vote results.

“I have come to the conclusion that there is no basis to charge anyone with any criminal offense,” County Attorney Fred Van Valkenburg said. According to Van Valkenburg, a technical glitch affected after-the-fact voting reports — like the one that led Patty Lovaas to believe the election had been rigged –making it appear that some votes were counted more than once. “They were never counted toward the election, and therefore this was simply a problem with how the software ran reports,” Van Valkenburg said.

North Carolina: Voter ID bill vetoed by Perdue, challenges continue | The Pendulum

Recent cases of voter fraud that have come to light in North Carolina have rekindled the fight to overturn Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a voter identification bill proposed in the spring.

The bill, proposed by Reps. Ric Killian, David Lewis and Tim Moore, would have required all voters to present photo identification at the polls and was vetoed by Perdue over the summer on the grounds it would have prevented open access to voting. “I was happy she vetoed it,” said George Taylor, professor of political science at Elon University. “I don’t see a need for it. It’s just another way to keep people from voting.”

Voting Blogs: Denver’s Inactive Ballot Flap: The Difficulty of Hitting a Moving Target | Doug Chapin/PEEA

On Monday, Colorado’s Secretary of State threatened to sue the Clerk/Recorder for the City and County of Denver if it followed through with plans to mail 2011 ballots to over 55,000 Denver voters classified as “inactive” because they failed to vote in 2010.

The dispute, which is vaguely reminiscent of the recent Battle of Cuyahoga over Ohio absentee ballot applications, once again pits a state official determined to enforce state law against a local official who seeks to continue a practice aimed at assisting voters.

What’s interesting in Colorado, however, is that the law is somewhat uncertain – which means that both parties in this dispute (Donnybrook in Denver? Rocky Mountain Rumble? Mile-High Melee?) might not have the full weight of authority on their side.

Editorials: Railroad Blues – redistricting season is upon us again | Jonathan Rodden and Jowei Chen/Boston Review

Redistricting season is upon us again. Politicians and interest groups are pouring over proposed and finalized maps, and pundits are trying to keep score. How many seats will the Democrats pick up in California? How many will they lose in Missouri?

More important than score-keeping, however, is whether the composition of the legislature reflects the partisanship of the electorate. Will a party that wins 50 percent of the votes get 50 percent of the seats? In most states the answer is no. Republicans can expect a sizable advantage, and not because of gerrymandering.

Editorials: Is Rick Perry Right That the Seventeenth Amendment Was a Mistake? | Vikram David Amar/Verdict.Justia

Among the many provocative things Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry has said is that the American people “mistakenly empowered the federal government during a fit of populist rage in the early twentieth century . . . by changing the way senators are elected (the Seventeenth Amendment).”

In this column, we analyze why the Seventeenth Amendment—providing for direct election of U.S. Senators—came about, and whether it would be a good and/or workable idea, as Perry suggests, to repeal it.

The Original Constitution and the Provision for State Legislative Election of Senators

Most historians and legal commentators agree on the basic story of Senate election methods. In 1787, the Framers and ratifiers of the original Constitution chose legislative election largely to safeguard the existence and interests of the state governments.

Mexico: Cost of 2012 Mexican Presidential Elections Announced | Inside Costa Rica

The 2012 Presidential Elections in Mexico will cost 180 million pesos (some 14.8 million US dollars), reported Monday Mexico”s Federal Electoral Institute (IFE). This money will be used to buy graphite to mark the electoral ballots, indelible ink, ballot boxes, boxes for electoral packages and other materials. The amount does not include the cost of individual campaigns of candidates.

At least 151,347 polling booths will be set up and 215 million ballots will be printed for the July 1st, 2012, elections, in which the new federal president, 128 senators and 500 legislators will be elected.

An electoral box-package with the shape of a backpack will be used for the first time to carry ballots and to facilitate the transfer of the documentation to the electoral district, informed IFE. A new type of indelible ink, made by the National Polytechnic Institute, which comes inside a tube with a sponge applicator, will also be used for the first time.

Zambia: Electoral Commission explains delayed official results anouncement |

The Electoral Commission of Zambia (ECZ) has explained the delay in announcing election results from the rest of the country to the public through the official election results centre that has been set up at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka.

ECZ Public Relations Manager, Cris Akufuna explained this morning that the Commission has not yet received consolidated results from any of the 150 constituencies in Zambia. ZANIS reports that Mr. Akufuna said the ECZ has however received results from some totalling centres from around the country but not the general total results from constituencies. He said results are announced only when total results from a particular constituency have been received and added.

Zimbabwe: Election Advocacy Group Urges Shift in Control of Voters List | VoA News

The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said Tuesday that a bill to reform the country’s electoral system is flawed because it leaves responsibility for compiling the voters roll with the registrar general, saying the Electoral Commission should do the job.

Under the Electoral Amendment Bill now moving through Parliament, the Office of the Registrar General retains control over the national voters list – albeit under the supervision and oversight of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. The Zimbabwe Election Support Network said this will merely dilute accountability.